cover image The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome

The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome

Serge Brussolo, trans. from the French by Edward Gauvin. Melville House, $24.95 (220p) ISBN 978-1-61219-468-4

Brussolo's first book to be translated into English is an offbeat hybrid of crime and fantasy, though its execution doesn't match the originality of its fascinating premise. The reader is immediately dropped into the deep end of the pool with a surreal beginning in which diver David Sarella fears that a car is mutating into a shark; things only get stranger from there as David attempts a dangerous underwater heist, using a severed hand and extracted eyeball to defeat a biometric security system. Brussolo soon reveals the context: David is a medium who can materialize "ectoplasms of persistent duration" and dreams that become valued pieces of art, which are closely regulated by the government. His larcenous experiences on his dives are actually just the product of his dream state, but the adventures%E2%80%94and his heist accomplice, Nadia%E2%80%94feel all too real to him. Fans of hard-to-pigeonhole authors such as J.G. Ballard will find this challenging read to their taste. (Jan.)